JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (Reuters) - A ruthless United States showed a shattered International team no mercy winning three of the four foursomes matches on Saturday to sit on the brink of a seventh straight Presidents Cup title.
The U.S. began the day with a commanding 8-2 lead, their biggest ever after two days of Presidents Cup competition, and stretched it to an almost insurmountable 11 1/2 - 2 1/2 advantage after the morning matches.
Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed set the tone with a 4&3 win over the Australian duo of Jason Day and Marc Leishman in the first match.
Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar pushed the reeling Internationals into a deeper hole with a 4&3 decision over Canada’s Adam Hadwin and Australian Adam Scott.
Phil Mickelson and Kevin Kisner turned the screws even tighter with a 2&1 win over Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas and Argentine Emiliano Grillo.
Only South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace prevented a U.S. sweep when they halved their match with Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas.
The U.S. would clinch the trophy a day early with a sweep of the afternoon four-balls, which would turn Sunday’s 12 singles matches into dead rubbers.
The U.S. have won nine of 11 Presidents Cups, including the last six from the International team, comprised of players from the rest of the world except Europe.
“It doesn’t look like we are trying but we are trying very hard,” said dejected International captain Nick Price.
”The guys obviously are a little down but like I said yesterday, there’s still a long way to go but it’s tough.
”The momentum has swung against us.
”Yesterday, and then again today, losing the first two matches (it) would have been great if we could have posted a point with one of the first two matches, but you know, we’ve just got to keep plugging along.
“We’re not going to lay down.”
Needing to mount an early charge to battle back into contention, the International team instead got the day off to a foreboding start when Leishman sent his opening tee shot into the water in the alternate shot event handing Spieth and Reed a 1-up lead.
Mickelson, meanwhile, becomes the all-time leader in Presidents Cup matches won with 25, surpassing Tiger Woods.
“Team USA is playing really well and they have all year,” said Stricker. “They came into this event riding a lot of momentum, a lot of confidence, and they really get excited to play these team events and it’s showing.”
Editing by Andrew Both